Kama Muta: Conceptualizing and Measuring the Experience Often Labelled Being Moved Across 19 Nations and 15 Languages

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Zickfeld J. H. , Schubert T. W. , Seibt B., Blomster J. K. , Arriaga P., Basabe N., ...More

EMOTION, vol.19, no.3, pp.402-424, 2019 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 19 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1037/emo0000450
  • Journal Name: EMOTION
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.402-424
  • Keywords: being moved, kama muta, cross-cultural, communal sharing, empathy, ELEVATION, EMOTIONS, EMPATHY, PERSONALITY, GRATITUDE, NOSTALGIA, FEELINGS, VALUES, STATE, ART


English-speakers sometimes say that they feel "moved to tears," "emotionally touched," "stirred," or that something " warmed their heart;" other languages use similar passive contact metaphors to refer to an affective state. The authors propose and measure the concept of kama muta to understand experiences often given these and other labels. Do the same experiences evoke the same kama muta emotion across nations and languages? They conducted studies in 19 different countries, 5 continents, 15 languages, with a total of 3,542 participants. They tested the construct while validating a comprehensive scale to measure the appraisals, valence, bodily sensations, motivation, and lexical labels posited to characterize kama muta. The results are congruent with theory and previous findings showing that kama muta is a distinct positive social relational emotion that is evoked by experiencing or observing a sudden intensification of communal sharing. It is commonly accompanied by a warm feeling in the chest, moist eyes or tears, chills or piloerection, feeling choked up or having a lump in the throat, buoyancy, and exhilaration. It motivates affective devotion and moral commitment to communal sharing. Although the authors observed some variations across cultures, these 5 facets of kama muta are highly correlated in every sample, supporting the validity of the construct and the measure.